Still, my friends and I knew that the handful of truly determined firebugs weren't in their right minds, just addled, excitable and in need of attention. We stood back and tried not to get in their way.
Once in a while, one of us would hoot. Mostly, we just raised our plastic cups, basked in the glow of a satisfying victory and worked up the nerve to talk to coeds. We were nerds.
Now, with zoning having mostly washed away the neighborhood's sudsy reputation, Sunnyside is but a sad shadow of its former glory, its value as the payoff to a big bet diminished. There's no sacrifice in what's essentially a stretch of sidewalk leading to off-campus housing.
Legends die hard. I can only guess that's the motivation behind this generation's celebratory pyromaniacs.
It makes for good copy. A blurb and a roll of the eyes on SportsCenter.
But in the presence of people who didn't attend my school, I feel like someone sitting with the in-laws' family at a wedding reception and watching a drunken, distant relative make a fool of himself. There's great love - and great embarrassment - at what should be a very happy occasion.
Nobody likes being in the hot seat.
Design editor Philip Maramba can be reached at 304-348-4809 or by e-mail at phil...@dailymail.com.